[Updated May 2023]
This reading list is packed full of tales ready to whisk you far far away – even if you’re only in your garden. Whether you’re going away or not, these lovely books are the perfect accompaniment to the sunny weather. So grab your shades, a cold drink, and settle in with these sunshine stories.
For the Adventurers
Swashbuckling stories of desert islands, fairy tales from Venetian nights, and far-flung folklore from India.
Pirates, maps and treasure, this action-filled tale will send you on an adventure over the high-seas. The story begins with an old sailor who appears an inn on the west English coast, talking of a sea chest and secret treasure map. When the sailor dies, his charge is left with Jim, the innkeeper’s son, who discovers the chest and map. In no time, Jim is swept into a dangerous quest across the sea, privy to plots, murder, and mutiny – some while concealed in an apple barrel.
All the stories in this collection stem from the initial ‘frame story’ of the ruler Shahryār, and his wife, Scheherazade. She tells a different tale each night, never revealing the ending – so that the King may spare her life… Presenting a retelling of some classic middle eastern and south Asian folk tales like ‘The King of Persia’, ‘The Loss of the Talisman’ and ‘The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailo’, this collection of 15 illustrated tales is a sure escape to hotter climates.
Lords, Ladies, damsels and gentlemen are gathered at a party in Venice and tell each other fairy tales, witty fables, and follies to entertain themselves. Seventy-four tales are told over 13 nights, including folk and fairy-tales, novellas with themes of trickery and intrigue; and tragic and heroic stories. These magical stories are divided into two volumes – see Volume 2 here.
Following the title character Robinson Crusoe, this famous adventure novel will transport you to Caribbean shores. During a treacherous sea voyage, Crusoe’s ship gets attacked by pirates, leaving his vessel shipwrecked, and he finds himself deserted on an island in the Caribbean. Told from the castaway’s perspective, the book follows Crusoe’s encounters with the island and its inhabitants, his servant ‘Man Friday’, the desperate attempts to escape, and the struggle to survive the island that has held him for 28 years.
A wonderfully illustrated collection of 43 Indian-Folk tales retold by W. H. D. Rouse. These mostly indigenous tales include The Talking Thrush, The Judgment of the Jackal, The Camel’s Neck, The Foolish Wolf, The Grateful Goat, The King of Mice, The Bull and the Bullfinch and many more. Our favourite is A Crow is a Crow for Ever, which you can read here.
For the Dreamers
Adventures in Wonderland, enchanting forest fairies, and royal summer gardens.
With the summer solstice around the corner, it seemed only right to indulge in some full-blown fairy magic. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s most-loved narratives, and it’s easy to see why. The tangled romance of humans and fairies dusted in golden midsummer magic is difficult to not fall in love. A guaranteed escape into the world of Titania, Oberon and their playful love games.
This epic poem is about the symbolic figure of ‘Queen Summer’, depicting a summer garden as a royal court and the activities that happen around her arrival.
‘When Summer on the earth was queen
She held her court in gardens green
Fair hung with tapestry of leaves,
Where threads of gold the sun enweaves.’
Escape to an underwater world as we follow a young chimney sweep named Tom in this classic children’s fairy tale. After falling into a river, Tom metamorphoses into a ‘water baby’. The story follows his adventures and experiences after his transformation, and the moral and spiritual lessons he learns throughout his ‘evolution’.
Possibly the best break from reality is one down the rabbit hole. This timeless story by C. S. Lewis is about a young girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole and finds herself in Wonderland. There’s magic potions, talking caterpillars, disappearing cats, and a Queen obsessed with red hearts. It’s an entirely immersive journey into a fantastical world where nothing is quite as it seems.
This darling collection of short stories are a journey through a world of fairy magic. They were written by the author Lucy M. Scott, when she was just nine years old, the tales are full of whimsy and delight. Beautifully accompanied by illustrations from A. Duncan Carse, this book is a lovely read whatever the weather.
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